A Republican Problem
After Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay was charged on September 28 with illegally funneling corporate money to Texas Republicans, CBS’s Face the Nation (10/2/05) covered the indictment by convening a panel of three Republican congressmembers: David Dreier of California, John Shadegg of Arizona and Jim Leach of Iowa. Why the curious booking decision? Host Bob Schieffer explained midway through the interview: “Let me just point out, I didn’t invite any Democrats to be on this morning because I thought this was a Republican problem and wanted to give you a chance to talk about it.” Funny, you’d think that if it were true that DeLay was illegally swaying elections, that would be everyone’s problem. But Face the Nation doesn’t reserve all-GOP panels for the party’s bad days; after the 2004 elections, which saw Republicans retain the White House and solidify their power in Congress, Face the Nation (11/7/04) turned to Republican senators Arlen Specter, Susan Collins and Chuck Hagel. Republican problem or Republican success—either way, Republicans seem to be the only ones you need to talk to.
Savior of the White?
On October 23, 2005 in an op-ed titled “The Savior of the Right,” New York Times columnist David Brooks argued that George W. Bush has “modernized and saved” conservative thought. Because Bush “reconnected with the positive and idealistic instincts of middle-class Americans,” according to Brooks, “the G.O.P. has become the party of the middle class.” Brooks’ evidence for this claim? “Bush beat Kerry among whites earning between $30,000 and $75,000 a year by 22 percentage points.” Wait a second—since when do you have to be white to be a member of the middle class? Exit polls actually showed the $30,000-$75,000 income group going more narrowly for Bush—about 53 percent to 46 percent—while among whites of all incomes, Bush beat Kerry by about 17 percentage points. So the number Brooks cited was much more about race than class—but maybe “the G.O.P has become the party of the white race” didn’t have as good a ring to it.
The Unheeded Warning
“I’m not willing to work further on this project with Judy Miller. . . . I do not trust her work, her judgment, or her conduct. She is an advocate, and her actions threaten the integrity of the enterprise, and of everyone who works with her. . . . She has turned in a draft of a story of a collective enterprise that is little more than dictation from government sources over several days, filled with unproven assertions and factual inaccuracies . . . [and] tried to stampede it into the paper.”
—Memo written in 2000 by New York Times reporter Craig Pyes (Washington Post, 10/17/05)
Joe McCarthy’s PR Tips
“BASH BACK: If you get attacked, dig up dirt on your assailant and feed it to sympathetic bloggers. Discredit him. ATTACK THE HOST: Find some copyrighted text that a blogger has lifted from your Web site and threaten to sue his Internet service provider under the Digital Millennium Copy-right Act. That may prompt the ISP to shut him down. Or threaten to drag the host into a defamation suit against the blogger. The host isn’t liable but may skip the hassle and cut off the blogger’s access anyway. Also: Subpoena the host company, demanding the blogger’s name or Internet address.”
—Forbes magazine (11/14/05), advising corporations on “Fighting Back” against critical bloggers
News Channel or Mafia Crew?
Fox News Channel’s John Gibson (10/20/05) ended a soliloquy on Syria (“[President] Bashir Assad can wail about being a sovereign nation, yada, yada, yada”) with a not really veiled threat: “Our ground troops may be busy in Iraq, but our Air Force has some time on its hands, and our Navy—with those nice, shiny new cruise missiles. . . . I hear there are a lot of nice Syrian people and we wouldn’t want to see any of them getting hurt by accident.” Earlier (10/3/05), Fox’s Bill O’Reilly had declared of Assad: “We could take his life, and we should take his life if he doesn’t help us out.”
“Just Make Things Up”
“At the time I started at Fox, I thought, this is a great news organization to let me be very aggressive with a sitting president of the United States [Bill Clinton]. . . .I started having issues when others in the organization would take my carefully scripted and nuanced reporting and pull out bits and pieces to support their agenda on their shows. With the change of administration in Washington, I wanted to do the same kind of reporting, holding the [Bush] administration accountable, and that was not something that Fox was interested in doing. . . . Editorially, I had issues with story selection. . . . But the bigger issue was that there wasn’t a tradition or track record of honoring journalistic integrity. I found some reporters at Fox would cut corners or steal information from other sources or in some cases, just make things up. Management would either look the other way or just wouldn’t care to take a closer look. I had serious issues with that.”
—Former Fox News Channel correspondent David Shuster (Bloomington, Ind. Herald–Times, 10/2/05)
Smiles on All the Faces of the Bosses
“Based on all the smiles on all the faces of the children . . . it looks like the magic of Disney is taking hold in China.”
—Mike Barz (ABC’s Good Morning America, 9/12/05), reporting on the opening of a new Disney-owned theme park for a Disney-owned TV network